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and the Art of Slowing it Down
I couldn’t Tango let alone Salsa & other challenges from B.A.
February 19, 2011Posted by on
After I left Arizona, I rented a one bedroom apartment in Washington, DC, on a pretty tree-lined street not far from Dupont Circle. I was desperate for love but couldn’t stay with a partner that treated me so brutally so I found an employer, a hopeless latin to replace him, a man, with two daughters of his own, that couldn’t believe someone had let pretty naïve little ‘ol ME go!
I was going through a lot of changes then; dealing with my loss of my pseudo lover… we shared a bed but not intercourse and menopause prematurely induced by depakote to recover my fertility from the removal of chocolate cysts. But most significantly I was in over my head in terms of the Politics required to get my job done in this very small town. I am not an Architect but have worked for them since I was sixteen… never had I seen a job so complicated.
For weeks I had been STRESSED OUT at work but can’t remember if I had been having trouble sleeping. That said, I do vividly recall the first of many sleepless nights the night a half a pack of cigarettes and two beers shockingly consumed me with random and deafening thoughts that flooded my head. A deep paranoia overcame me. I was convinced that someone was photographing my sister and I in our alley apartment. Truth be told, we left our blinds open, all of the time, before and after showers and as we slept… so I really couldn’t blame them for noticing what was going on.
I wonder if I would have thought such a thing had I not seen that sign posted in our neighborhood re: a recent killing. To me it was a (literal) message to ME to protect my sister – to ME it was a sign that the half a dozen men that had rented the apartment before 09/11 were coming back to get something. Wrought with fear of having no place to go I paced our tiny 400sf apartment waiting for my sister to rise.
After downloading many of my thoughts to her in the morning, she insisted I try to get some sleep and begged me to call my doctor to prescribe something to help as she had never seen me act this way before. My doctor was unavailable but the doctor-on-call promised to call the Pharmacy. By this point I trusted no one; after all I was in one of the most dangerous places in the United States, the nation’s capitol. Nonetheless, much to my sister’s encouragement, I pushed forward and went to the local CVS.
The Pharmacist had clearly been out partying all night long, his makeup was running on his face ans I sensed he didn’t have time to remove it all on his rush to get to work… his unkempt hair suggested he hadn’t slept at all. I scrutinized the label looking for the name of the doctor that had ordered the drugs, something smelled fishy, and then I saw it. My name was spelled incorrectly and my address was wrong?!
There was no way that I was going to take these drugs! Who knows what they were, I had considered that they quite possibly could be pills that would put an end to my nightmare, pills that would end my life.
On our walk home I stopped at a sidewalk sale and saw messages in everything. A man, carrying a “Hold Everything” bag left his apartment just as we were walking up to his gate. He intentionally interrupted us on the street with a serious but consoling smile, he knew my troubles, shook his bag to ensure that the message stuck… I was to keep quiet. Suddenly the world was revolving around us and men and women that were either out to get me or out to protect me. They all had one thing in common – they knew what trouble my sister and I were in.
It was becoming clearer to me that I was caught up in many triangles after I read a bit of an article, in a Spanish rag, about town politics and… local construction. I was the architect that was “muy simpatico” but was strapped by my allegiance to the firm.
Collected but anxious for me to get better, my sister didn’t want to leave my side. Although she could not read my thoughts she knew that something was terribly wrong. She encouraged me to consider going to the hospital because I wouldn’t take the drugs that were prescribed for me and I conceded.
Just then my episode got worse. Our car wasn’t where I had left it and I was convinced that it was stolen. And that’s when we stumbled on another sign adjacent to my where my car should have been. Pennies, a pile of pennies, were left on the stump where we sat?! Frantically I dialed 911 to report the stolen car. My bar name was Penny and there was no coincidence that a block from our house, where our car had been stolen, I find another message; a message I could decipher. The pennies were for ME. A hundred or more good luck wishes…
Zealous to protect my younger sister; I cancelled my 911 call mid sentence and decided to walk to the hospital. It would have been great if the story ended there but it didn’t.
In this small town on a crisp September afternoon, I, an otherwise average 30-year-old woman, made a freak-sih scene running across Connecticut Avenue flagging an oncoming ambulance to stop. I clearly needed help. I couldn’t make up my mind or whom to trust nor what to do next… The paramedics, who could not hear my words through their windows, stopped their vehicle and got out to see what was wrong. And as they tried to approach me I thought I recognised one of them from the job site!? Stunned w/ fear for both myself and my sister I ran the opposite direction screaming “Help me, help me”.
Where the policemen came from I will never know but two policemen and two paramedics later I was on the sidewalk, face down and handcuffed! Close by, my sister was crying into her cell phone, “The police and paramedics have her on the ground, what should I do?”. Though I could not hear the words, I knew the response was to let them take me – maybe they could help.
Had I screamed “I have a gun” or “I have a bomb” this story would have ended here. Fortunately, I did have a story, but not the kind you’re thinking of right now! When the paramedics tried to put me into the ambulance I refused to go “unless there were police cars following the ambulance to be sure they would take me and my sister to the hospital”. Within a few minutes the ambulance trailed by the requested squad cars made a little parade down Connecticut Avenue towards the Psych Ward. I got a lot of good medical attention as the doctor’s were curious to record what was in my pockets and to hear what conspiracies I knew.